3:12 PM | Posted by Elusive Travels
We landed around 6pm on Friday 7th December at Melbourne airport after a five hour flight from Cairns. At the airport we booked a Sky Bus return journey that costs $28/per head which took us to Southern cross station, and from there we took a free shuttle bus into the city to the Crowne Promenade hotel where we spent the weekend.
The first thing I noticed when entering the metropolis, was that the look and feel of the city was similar to London, in the sense that you had towering skyscrapers but lots of old buildings and side streets that reminded me of Oxford and Regent street in London.
Gettting around the city was fairly easy, around 10-15 mins walk to Southerncross station and about and eight minute walk to Flinders Street station. There are numerous ways to travel around the city, buses, trams, taxis or simply just walking.
Since we were quite tired we decided to relax at the hotel, grab a quick dinner and then at night we decided to check out the clubbing scene. The Hotel recommended us to pay a visit to Fusion and Co, we opted for fusion and for the first time in 2 years it was a fantastic experience to be in a club that played R&B music, a genre of music which seems to be lacking in Singapore's nightclubs. Another good thing was that as guests of the hotel which owned the Crowne entertainement complex where Fusion and Co are located, we were given free entry. Overall the club is a great venue if you want to enjoy good music, and dance, the crowd can be a little hit and miss depending on which nights you go. Co which we visited on Saturday and Sunday night was also similar to Fusion.
On Saturday morning after being well rested, we had brunch at Brown Sugar Cafe located at 25 Block place and then we headed over to Flinder's street station and hopped on the City Circle tram, an old style tram providing a free tour of the city with a recorded voice telling you all about the important locations, we passed Melbourne Aquarium, Docklands, Etihad Stadium, City museum and many other locations. It's a great way to see the city and you also get to learn interesting facts. As it's a free service you also tend to find a lot of people using it as a quick way to get to their next destination without having to wait for the paid tram service.
The tour lasted one hour, after which we visited David Jones department store to buy Christmas pudding for my aunt, who had invited us over for dinner at her house in Dandenong, located in the suburbs of Melbourne. Around 6.45pm we headed by Taxi to Dandenong arriving at my Aunt's around 7.30, after many discussions and laughs we enjoyed a delicious Sri Lankan home cooked meal before saying good byes and making our way back to Melbourne around midnight where we then decided to go clubbing at Co.
The rest of the remaining days, we spent wondering the city trying out different foods and night life and on the last day, Monday 10th we metup with an old school friend of mine whom I had not seen in 17 years. We left each others company with a promise that the next time I visit Australia we would visit more of Melbourne, in particular "Great Ocean" road and take a road trip around the outback, which I was told was an amazing way to see the country especially for a keen photographer like myself.
5:23 PM | Posted by Elusive Travels
The tour began this morning at 7.45am courtesy of Billytea tours in a 4WD. There must have been a total of 20-30 in our group, some locals, some international. After about an hours drive we arrived at our first stop of the day, the Daintree river, where we stopped for tea and then took an hour long river safari where we saw many varieties of Mangroves, flowering plants including the "Lang Lang" whose oils are used in the manufacturing of Chanel perfumes, several egrets and the world's smallest species of Kingfisher "Flashing Azures" that move extremely swiftly making them impossible to capture on camera, while moving.
The river was home to about 70 crocodiles, ten of which had been given a name but only two that I can remember,"Scarface" who the river safari guide mentioned was the Alpha male and the largest in the area and "Forest Gump" who we managed to catch a glimpse of. He had his entire body submerged in water with only a portion of his snout and eyes visible, they blend into the surroundings making them very difficult to spot, and we were also informed that they can leap pretty high, thus at all times were advised to have our hands inside the boat.
The cruise had come to an end and we headed to the next destination, the Alexandra range where we stopped to admire panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest and wet tropics and then set foot along an elevated guided National Park Boardwalks. Once more we saw many different types of fauna and flora, but we were mostly in search of the elusive Cassowary, a giant flightless bird native to north-eastern Australia and New Guinea. Unfortunately as it was an extremely hot day our guide informed us that the birds were probably snoozing and would have been out very early in the morning, still we did manage to see an Orange-footed Scrubfowl. The total walk must have lasted about 45 minutes to and hour, after which we stopped for lunch at Lynch Haven a tropical restaurant located in the Daintree area, and also enjoyed feeding a couple of Kangaroos.
Our bellies now full , we headed drove past along Bloomfield track before arriving at Emmagen Creek where some of the group enjoyed a swim in the crystal clear stream of the rainforest bundant with plenty fish, beautiful brightly blueish purple butterflies and thankfully no crocodiles. A small campfire was set-up (well a portable gas powered camp fire ) where the guides brewed a massive pot of local "Billy Tea" with water obtained from the Emerson Creek. Along with the local tea we also enjoyed serving of exotic fruits, Papaya, Jack, Starfruit, Black Sapote and Passionfruit.
We'd tasted Billy tea enjoyed exotic fruit and now it was time to head towards Cape Tribulation beach. The stunning panoramic views of the ocean surrouded by the Cape its truly breathtaking and made for some fabulous photo opportunities. Many of us would have loved to have swum in the ocean with its warm waters this time of the year, unfortunately it was also pristine season for "Marine Stingers" and "Box" jellyfish so we were advised to stay clear of the water. I guess it is one way of nature telling us that for a certain part of the year, 'you can look but you can't touch'
The tour had come to and end by this stage and we were heading back home, where we also crossed the river via cable ferry which was a first time experience for me. At the end of the day it was a fantastic trip, but I wish that I had seen some of the animal species shown in the brochures, or documentaries about Daintree. It makes me wonder, if the species of animals that we know of still remain elusive, then what else must be out there that we have no idea about, not just at Daintree but all over the world, yet here we are spending millions of dollars trying to find life on other planets.
For more information about the Daintree tours, take a look at the "Billy Tea Tour" website:
5:26 PM | Posted by Elusive Travels
The journey commenced this morning at 7am, where we drove about an hour to Cairns where we then boarded a catamaran. Once aboard the catamaran we were introduced the fantstic crew, who provided us with safety information and quick guide on how to wear the snorkel gear after that we cruised onto the inner reef, Michaelmas Cay.
Once we reached the inner reef, the seascape and surrounding vicinity was breathtaking in its beauty, dark blue waters with shades of green, with hoards of terns flying above. The catamaran came to a stop and we were all advised to put on the stinger suits and snorkel gear and we were then divided into two groups, those who wanted to take the introductory snorkel tour from the boat (open sea) and those who wanted to take the tour starting from the beach. As it was my first time, I opted to start from the beach.
There must have been about seven or eight pax in the introductory snorkel, which lasted approximately 35mins. The view under the ocean was nothing short of spectacular, multidues of colours and the corals formed something akin to an underwater forest. In some respect it is truly overwhelming to see the biodiversity that exists at the reef. We saw many different kinds of choral, hard ( brain, boulder, blue stag) and soft the names of which I can't remember. We also saw schools of blue-green damsel fish, which accquire their name as they change their colour to green when in distress, "Damsel in distress" brightly blue-green coloured parrotish and several giant clams, and a number of angelfish and rabbit fish. Time was up and we all got back on the boat where we headed further out to the open sea to the outer reef.
At the outer reef there is no beach, so you pretty much start your snorkelling from the boat itself, at the outer reef we saw more of the hard and soft corals, a Turtle ( unfortunately I didn't ask how old he was), a sea cucumber, a beautiful blue starfish and a reef shark as well as more parrotfish, rabbitfish and several whitetail dascyllus, once again the beauty witnessed here cannot really be described in words and must truly be seen with the naked eye to really appreciate nature's offerings.
Next stop was hastings reef where we boarded a glass bottom boat for a quick tour of the corals where we saw more of the same corals and fish species but was also lucky enough to witness a giant clam snap staggeringly fast in spite of its size.
Now I suppose you are all wondering how to go about visiting the reef, one word Sea Star. This was the reef tour operator we used and they offer excellent value for money, at $185 AUD, some of the things included are, 5 hours out on the reef, glass boat tour, introduction to snorkelling and diving, tea, cakes, lunch and limitless supply of water, really excellent value for money. The crew were exceptionally helpful, friendly and really out to ensure you had a great time. Really can't recommend them enough.
For more details, take a look at their site:
and also their Facebook page:
Any of you readers who were with me on this tour are more than likely going to find photos of you at the above facebook link.
It has been a marvellous experience at the Great Barrier Reef , one I would not forget and an experience I am more than likely to re-visit again, next time armed with a protective water case for my camera so I can relive the memories.
6:22 PM | Posted by Elusive Travels
Sydney Opera house, as most of you know is a stunning piece of architecture hailed as one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century. It is synonymous with this city and as a matter of fact without it one could say Sydney would not be Sydney. If you thought it looked amazing in photos, you were right. But if you thought that was the best way to see it then my friends you are very mistaken. Any photo pales in comparison to seeing it with the naked eye. Located on the Harbour, which is also home to another Sydney landmark, 'The Sydney Harbour bridge' known locally as the 'coat hanger'. It is simply breathtaking and at night when lit up will leave you in awe.
The battery on my camera has sufficient charge, so I am now headed up to the 36th floor of the hotel for some panoramic views of Sydney where I will take some photos of the Opera house. After that its back down to circular quay and along the Harbour to take some night shots of the opera house, bridge and Luna park all beautifully illuminated at night.
This city with its rich culture, friendly people, great food and plenty of entertainment has offered a fantastic travel experience and is definitely worthwhile visiting again.
2:00 PM | Posted by Elusive Travels
After wandering through the national park we decided to turn back as it started to rain and getting caught in a torrential downpour is not something I had planned for.
Just as we hit the road the rain stopped and the skies cleared, we felt inclined to turn back but pressed on towards Newport beach, where once again I reveled in the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and golden sand beaches.
Darkness soon approached and we headed into centre point where we walked on George street, Pitt street, and circular quay stopping at city extra restaurant to satisfy my hunger with a delicious serving of pumpkin soup and generously large seafood pie, a scrumptious meal costing $40 AUD per head for the dinner.
It was now 1am and my lack of sleep had taken its toll on me so it was time to call it a night.